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Link rot

A phenomenon so common, it has its own Wikipedia entry:

Link rot (also called link death, link breaking, or reference rot) is the phenomenon of hyperlinks tending over time to cease to point to their originally targeted file, web page, or server due to that resource being relocated to a new address or becoming permanently unavailable.

Sifting through dozens of old blog posts as I transfer them to, a few things are becoming evident. Having a newborn in the household is not conducive to writing. The period from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day is. And most of the internet I have linked to in the past no longer exists.

Take this short, 8-year-old text about vim. It mentions one podcast and two blogs; none are still around at their original location. The podcast was Technical Difficulties which, if memory serves, was a podcast of Gabe Weatherhead and Erik Hess that ran for 2 years from 2013–2014 before disappearing into oblivion. One of the two blogs was Dr. Bunsen by Seth Brown: also gone, but at least available through the Wayback Machine. The second was from Steve Losh whose website is either down or having temporary difficulties, but in any case unavailable on Wayback.

So this little expedition through just three links took me a good 15 minutes; updating all of the old posts with new links and explanations like this one would not be the best use of anyone’s time. But what are the alternatives?

Gwern Branwen’s website comes to mind, as he goes as far as hosting complete pages on his own server while using icons to point to the original URLs. The afformentioned Wayback Machine also hosts web page snapshots. Would a script converting original URLs to their archived counterpart be hard to find, if not make?

Those are not bad ideas — for a digital garden-type project. For an effemeral blog such as this one, the effort-to-benefit ratio leans the way of my learning to live with link rot. So it goes.

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